Do the left wing in our country see our Constitution as an archaic obstacle to their goals? The recent evidence certainly points to it. The question then becomes, if the left could wage a magic wand, with what would they replace our Constitution?
It was about two years ago that the left's "go to guy" for policy issues, Ezra Klein, complained about the Constitution, that "the text is confusing because it was written more than a hundred years ago." The left has been working through the Courts to work fundamental changes to the Constitution for 50 years, creating new rights out of whole cloth in many instances while, in other areas of enumerated rights, limiting them. As to the latter, religion and property rights have been the arenas of the most judicial activism.
Thus it was no surprise when a sitting left wing Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, should opine that Egypt should not look to the U.S. Constitution as a model, but rather to South Africa's Constitution, as it "embrace[s] basic human rights . . . [and] an independent judiciary." Nor is it surprising to see the New York Times weigh in with an editorial, suggesting that our Constitution has many faults. "The rights guaranteed by the American Constitution are parsimonious by international standards," and the Constitution is "difficult to amend." I add as a comment here that it is not difficult to amend our Constitution if you are a federal judge who wants to see their own personal policy choices made into Constitutional law. At any rate, the NYT author then launches into the crux of the left wing criticism of our Constitution:
Americans recognize rights not widely protected, including ones to a speedy and public trial, and are outliers in prohibiting government establishment of religion. But the Constitution is out of step with the rest of the world in failing to protect, at least in so many words, a right to travel, the presumption of innocence and entitlement to food, education and health care.
It has its idiosyncrasies. Only 2 percent of the world’s constitutions protect, as the Second Amendment does, a right to bear arms."
As to a right to travel and a presumption of innocence, the NYT criticism is ridiculous. Those have been fundamental rights recognized by our Courts since the time of our founding. Likewise, the left uniformly hates the thought of an armed populace. But the real nub of the NYT criticism is that our Constitution does not make us all wards of the state by entitling us all to "food, education and welfare."
The South African Constitution so beloved of Justice Ginsburg goes further than merely "food, education and welfare." It includes:
- a right to housing;
- makes affirmative action Constitutional;
- has a provision requiring regulation of hate speech;
- provides a right of all workers to unionize and strike;
- provides a right to a clean environment;
- allows property to be expropriated not merely for a public purpose, but also "in the public interest;
- provides an extensive children's bill of rights; and finally,
- it contains a clause that allows the government to limit the above rights as it deems necessary.
In short it is a leftie's wet dream. It provides cradle to grave welfare, extensive unionization, it limits property rights, allows for government thought control under the auspices of hate speech, and finally, contains a catch all provision that allows the government to limit all of the above rights. It is a Constitution that requires big government, massive taxation to provide the welfare state, and that allows religious freedom on one hand but limits it on the other through hate speech laws and by requiring the state to assume functions that are traditionally charitable. And on top of that, the catch all provision would allow the government expansive power to drive a gaping hole through every one of the rights.
If you want to see where the left would lead our nation, Ginsburg and the NYT are not exactly hiding the ball. They would take us from a nation of limited government to a socialist nation with an expansive government. Unfortunately, through judicial activisim, they are well on the way to achieving their goal. It is a process that, as Newt Gingrich and Andrew McCarthy point out, must end.